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Beanie, Beanie, Burning Bright

, , , , | Right | September 14, 2020

It is 1997, and I’m a high-school student, working in a fast food place that serves kids’ meals to make them ‘happy,’ via a small promotional toy. This season, it’s beanie babies, and hoo boy…

I’m walking into work, via the back employee entrance on the morning that the promotion starts, to see my manager talking to a group of security guards, as a large pallet being moved from a truck to the back of the store.

Manager: “Ah, [My Name]. This is [Security Guard]. He’ll be overseeing the installation of the security cage.”

Me: “The what?”

Manager: “The security cage, for the beanie babies.”

Me: “Why would we need a security cage?”

Manager: “You haven’t been following the news, have you?”

Me: “What did I miss?”

Manager: “You’ll see for yourself when you see the front of the store.”

He chuckles ominously as I go to sign in, walking past the front of the store as I do. I have to stop and do a double-take; there is a line of customers wrapped around the parking lot, and it’s still half an hour until we open! The manager gives us a quick update about the craziness of the situation, how we have to have a cage for the toys, and why they were delivered with a security escort!

Eventually, we open, and the floodgates pour in. The customers run up to the counter, and my literal first customer says:

Customer #1: “I want a hundred happy meals! No food!”

Me: *Blinking* “Uh, I am afraid it’s a maximum of two per order, and I have to serve the food. Would you like—”

Customer #1: *Screams* “Ugh! Give me the leopard and the frog! I’ll line up again, but save them for me!”

Me: “I’m not supposed to select a specific toy, but I will grab those for you this time.”

The customer screams again, but still purchases two happy meals. Even as I serve the next customer, I can see them dump their perfectly good food in the trash, and go outside to start lining up again.

This continues all day! I eventually take my (very late) lunch break but hear a loud commotion when coming back on shift. I see my high-school English teacher, screaming at a coworker mere inches from his face.

English Teacher: “What do you mean you’re out of the Siberian tiger! I have been waiting… in… line… for…a… f****** hour!”

Me: “Mr. [English Teacher’s Name], please show us the same respect you expect from me in your class.”

My teacher looks over at me, glaring, but then recognizes me, looks sheepish, and drifts away.

Coworker: “Thanks! I was trying to explain to him we ran out of the tiger early this morning!”

Me: “No worries, I’m just not looking forward to my poetry reading on Monday.”

Coworker: “Why?”

Me: “It’s The Tyger by William Blake!”

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